Under His wings I am safely abiding,
Though the night deepens and tempests are wild,
Still I can trust Him; I know He will keep me,
He has redeemed me, and I am His child.
Under His wings, under His wings,
Who from His love can sever?
Under His wings my soul shall abide,
Safely abide forever.
Under His wings, what a refuge in sorrow!
How the heart yearningly turns to His rest!
Often when earth has no balm for my healing,
There I find comfort, and there I am blessed.
Under His wings, oh, what precious enjoyment!
There will I hide till life’s trials are o’er;
Sheltered, protected, no evil can harm me,
Resting in Jesus, I’m safe evermore.
Things arent always great. Life has ups and downs, twists and turns. You really cant predict where life is headed. I believe there are two ways to face this uncertain world: headfirst as an independent agent of chance and will power… or to seek refuge and guidance from the Creator of all things. This hymn is a powerful reminder of what lies in wait for those who seek the LORD for strength and wisdom.
Hymn writers have some of the most amazing stories. Amazing Grace was penned by an abolitionist. It is Well was penned after the writer had lost family tragically. This hymn was penned by Pastor William Cushing, around the year 1900. At fifty years old, he was afflicted by a disease that took his power of speech from him. As a pastor, not being able to speak makes that profession quite difficult. Sermon composition, and delivery was no longer a viable option… and this caused him great grief as he cried out to the LORD. But, where one door closes… another opens. The LORD will not put us through what we cannot handle, with Him by our side. Cushing found in his sorrow a gift for hymn writing – and he would write nearly 300 of them! It was twenty-five years after his new gift was revealed to him that he wrote “Under His Wings.” Towards the end of his life here on earth, he spoke up about that rest he had found in the Savior’s arms.
Imagine, if you wish, that one thing that makes you you. Whether it be athletics, speech, eyesight, your running, your singing, your spouse…. your kids…… now, if that thing were taken from you… ripped from your hands… how would you respond…? Who would you be? This is not an easy question to ponder.. or even consider answering. It is something that honestly makes me uncomfortable to even type up and think of myself… I dont want to think about what it would mean to lose my hearing, and my power to sing… or to lose my legs… or no longer see my wife and kids…. or even to lose my family. But God is a God of trust power, and I have seen people come back from terrible loss, and a great many more turn away during times of incredible gain… This hymn seeks to guide us to a better understanding of God’s work in our lives. Even when – especially when – everything seems down, we can find immeasurable power and love and grace and mercy and peace and direction… under His wings…
According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows (what a sad title for a website…), énouement means:
n. the bittersweetness of having arrived here in the future, where you can finally get the answers to how things turn out in the real world—who your baby sister would become, what your friends would end up doing, where your choices would lead you, exactly when you’d lose the people you took for granted—which is priceless intel that you instinctively want to share with anybody who hadn’t already made the journey, as if there was some part of you who had volunteered to stay behind, who was still stationed at a forgotten outpost somewhere in the past, still eagerly awaiting news from the front.
I love language. Language is a passion that I will never fully be able to explore. It especially is difficult because I know English… and frankly… English sux. It is at the same time far to specific and far too generalized to get a lot of meaning across. “Love” is a great example.
I “love” my wife. I “love” Marvel Entertainment. I “love” chocolate peanut butter pie my Aunt makes me. HOW?? How can I “love” them all? Because English has no real different meaning for that one word. Sure, I could be – again – uber specific or uselessly vague by using words like “enjoy,” “am obsessed with,” “relish,” et al… But when we hear people use that word we simultaneously do understand, and occasionally don’t understand what the speaker is actually saying in context.
Why did I just go into such excrutiating detail about that? Well, take the title of this post, “énouement.” That is not English. That is French. That word – that one word – in it’s native language means that entire paragraph above in English?! That is insane! We need more words like that in our language!
Why is my title énouement you, undoubtedly, ask yourself!? Well, its the concept I want to tackle right now! As I begin to branch this blog out from just discussing hymns and the like, I wanted to incorporate my family and my life as is. But as I thought about where to start, the one thought that kept coming back to me was, “man! If only I could talk to my senior self of high school, or even my close of freshman year in college self! I could give him a pat on the shoulder and wish him a good job. Sure, there would be challenges, but the life you are going to have is so much more than you ever dreamed!”
As I look back on the past – heck – 8 years I see such a development that I literally cannot do anything but praise God. The kid in that left photo said goodbye to the only life he knew after graduating high school. Goodbye to marching band, friends that stuck by him for nearly a decade. And stepped into a world that would be very different. It took me until I had nearly graduated college to realize, I wasn’t ever going home again. At least not in the way it was when I started my college career. When I began working for Bonclarken I was so naive it is almost funny. Almost. I remember nights talking with some of the guys I worked alongside and having my eyes opened to conceptions of the world that I had honestly never even fathomed existed. Ways to interact with people that had never crossed my mind.
But that isn’t even where it gets good. My college times were, hands-down, some of the best of my life. Or that is what I thought in the heat of the moment. My friends I gained from those years, friendships begun (Allyson, Tyler, Thomas, David) and friendships refined (Scott, Lisa, John, and John) are ones that have radically defined my life. Erskine is where I met my wife. It’s where I started seminary. I refined my leadership skills. I found a deeper love for music, and a deeper love for Christ. Erskine College, and some seminary, was an amazing time in my life.
But college ended. Seminary was postponed. I am now in a time that has shown to be the most challenging, yet most rewarding time in my life. Right out of college, the love of my life and I were wed on a perfect day 6/9/12 and 3pm. Because, like language, we both like numbers! Aren’t we just too cute?! During our time being married (going on 4 years) we have had some serious ups alongside some serious downs. We have struggled in ways that I would have never guessed possible. We have prayed. We have wept. We have loved harder. We have prayed even more. And God provides. I have paid bills on less than $20k a year. I look back on where we began – me providing on a part time job at Chick-fil-A – and I am astonished at how God provides. He provides with friends showing up with money to help out. He provides with parents who do this or that to cover something. He provides with better hours… a better job… a raise … a promotion… He just simply provides.
Then, when it seems like God has provided all you need, He laughs – and gives you a son.
You think you know love? You think you know sacrifice? Do you suppose you know absolute fear for the well-being of another? Becoming a parent will do that. When you see this life that God has blessed you with, and you see how fragile it is… and God blessed you with him?? You are just a kid yourself?? But when you have a child, you are no longer a kid anymore. I don’t care how immature you may be – that child changes the world (even if you don’t follow along). Our son has shown me a joy I never thought I was missing. He has become an object lesson I had always heard about in sermons, but can now experience myself! His laughter is contagious! His kisses seem so genuinely loving! His hugs tighter than you could have ever imagined. When he cries, you cry. When he is hurt, you are hurt. And when he is sick, you would literally do anything to take that from him. So, how does God complement a son?
He gives you a daughter! We are in the last weeks of this pregnancy, and then we will be a perfectly balanced family! God knows what He is doing. He blesses in ways we never imagine. We find blessing everywhere we look. And it is beautiful.
So, what would I tell myself? “Young man! Get a haircut, you hippy!” No, well… maybe that too. But I would tell myself to just hold on man, you literally cannot imagine what is headed your way! You think those people you hang out with daily in high school are your life friends? Just wait until you meet your roommate! You think that girl you have a crush on will define your love life? Ooooooh myyyyy gooooooodnessss! Just you wait man. You think your parents are ridiculous, and frustrating? Ask yourself how ridiculous you are when your son is running around with a loaded diaper. You think you understand God’s love? You. Aint. Seen. Nothing. Yet.
… and the beauty is that ten years from now I will undoubtedly look back at who I am right now and think the same thing… And that is the beauty of who God is, and who He is in our lives.